45 45s @ 45 : SWC STYLE (Part 24)

A GUEST SERIES


22 – Berlin Got Blurry – Parquet Courts (2016, Rough Trade records)

Released as a single in February 2016 (Did not Chart)

Berlin is the city that never fails to deliver and here is the reason why.

It’s quite late on December 30th 2004 and Mrs SWC and I are standing on a very cold train station platform deep below an airport in Berlin. It’s absolutely freezing. We are in Berlin for a New Years Eve break. We’ve been waiting twenty minutes for a train to the city.

When one eventually arrives we jump on it and take the short ride to centre of the city. Our hotel is located just off of Unter Den Linden and we drag our weary selves up the cold streets to find the small hotel. Its about nine pm and we are cold, hungry and pretty tired. We are both getting grouchy.

We hand the receptionist our booking details and she looks at us and smiles. She does some tapping on the computer and asks to see our passports, as usual she smiles when she sees mine.

Loser – Beck (1993, DGC Records, Number 15)

“ah, yes” she says, followed by “we’ve been waiting for you, there is a problem with your booking” and with this she vanishes behind a door. Mrs SWC and I stand there, yawning, and getting increasing fed up. Mrs SWC shoots me a look, which reminds me that this “was my bloody idea”.

Suddenly a smart man appears from behind the door. He has a brilliantly waxy moustache and is called Lukasz, he is the manager of the hotel. He shakes me by the hand, never a good sign I find, complete strangers shaking your hand, when you’ve been told there is some kind of problem. Anyway, the problem is that the room we were booked in, is unavailable, because, and here Lukasz lowers his voice, ‘a man slit his wrists in it earlier on today’.

Which is awful, obviously.

Lukasz smiles and touches his waxy moustache. I’m not sure why. He tells us, “and we have no other rooms….” He lets that hang slightly and smiles again. “….so we’ve arranged another hotel for you, at no extra cost, it’s about ten minutes’ walk up the road”. He hands me an envelope and tells me to hand that to the receptionist there with that he vanishes behind the same door as the lady earlier.

We look at the envelope – we are now staying apparently at the Westin Grand, Mrs SWC tells me that ‘It better bloody well be grand” and marches off, leaving me to drag the suitcases behind me.

The Westin Grand it turns out is a five star hotel. It is incredible and we arrive to a gold plated reception which is staffed by one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen. She greets us like an old friend and a man takes us to our room. He insists we leave our suitcases where they are.

We appear to have been given a suite. It has four rooms, the bedroom has the biggest bed I have ever seen which I still managed to fall out of when drunk on gluwein and wheat beer, approximately 30 hours later.

Share the Fall – Roni Size (1997, Talkin Loud Records, Number 37)

The bath has a television built into it, which seems massively dangerous to me, but we go with it. In the second room is a sort of lounge, which has three big silver domes on a table. The man who shows us to our room, tells us that dinner is on the house and then he hands us two cards, these are invitations to the Westin Grands New Year Eve party, which are also on the house (as a present for the trouble…), they are 400 Euros each, I kid you not, on the tickets in small writing it is says in German (I translated it) “Alcohol and a five course meal is included in the price”. Mrs SWC looks at me – and for the first time in about six hours, smiles at me.

SWC

 

 

DRENCHED…..A GUEST POSTING FROM S-WC

chicago_lakeview_northside_799623_o

Whilst I am was in the States last week I was taken out around Chicago by a new colleague (Hi Chip, if you are reading, yup an American called Chip, I also have a German friend called Fritz, and a French colleague called Pascal). We were sitting in a bar playing ‘Cards Against Humanity’, which if you have never played I totally recommend, that is, if you like your humour to be puerile, immature and slightly dodgy – which sadly I do. Anyway, Chip turns to me and says ‘Do you Like Live music?’ – and I’m like, ‘Yeah, a bit’ – I was playing it cool, I wanted to jump up and down and shout ‘YEAH!’

Around the corner was a club called Metro, and that very night playing at the venue was a band called Criminal Hygiene, and according to Chip they have a bit of a buzz about them. I finished my pint of warm beer and say ‘What do they sound like?’, ‘Shall we go and find out’ Chip says. Definitely.

$6 is what it costs to get in, and, within about half an hour I have had another pint of warm beer plus an additional one thrown in my face, bearing in mind I am standing near the back this is quite an achievement. I don’t see that many bands live anymore, not in tiny venues that smell like sweat and stale beer, anyway, I’m too old, and I have a two year old daughter to look after. However in venues like this, in a town you don’t know, surrounded by strangers, watching a band, that forty minutes previous, you have never heard of, bands seem incredible.

Criminal Hygiene are very good live, they play a garage rock racket, kind of punky but in a good way. They kind of sound like The Replacements, although a more recent comparison would be Parquet Courts or perhaps The Orwells (see last weeks missive). Their show is pretty rock and roll, smashed instruments, clearly drunk band members inviting the audience on to the stage for an impromptu jam, that sort of thing. Its bloody brilliant. Especially at the start when the singer jumps on the stage and shouts ‘Let’s fucking Do this’. I read later back in the comfort of my hotel that the singer of Criminal Hygiene has false front teeth due to the fact that he smacked his fact on a skateboard when much younger. Respect.

At the end I retreat to the bar and about two minutes later Chip comes over drenched in sweat, his Tshirt is ripped but he has a heck of a smile on his face. ‘That was pretty badass’ he says. I agree, hoping that badass means good. Its about one in morning when we leave the club, I sigh knowing that in about six hours’ time I have to go to the airport and suffer more jet lag. Yet I will go with a smile, a tired, slightly badass smile perhaps.

mp3 : Criminal Hygiene – Turpentine
mp3 : Parquet Courts – Stoned and Starving

And just because of how my friend looked at the end of the gig

mp3 : Hot Chip – Dark and Stormy

S-WC